Saturday, November 05, 2011

There they go again: Chopra & O’Reilly Pay Back Try on Richard Dawkins

By Gary Berg-Cross

In an earlier article, Magic of Reality Part 2 –Why are You so Insensitive About my Real Myths?, I discussed an exchange between Richard Dawkins (RD) and Bill O’Reilly on his Fox show. I thought that Bill got much the worst of that exchange, but he is at Dawkins again, without having Richard there to defend himself. Instead he had mystic, spiritual author Deepak Chopra as a guest, who was hawking his new book, “War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality,” on the “O’Reilly Factor”. As you can imagine this book is quite a contrast with Dawkins Magic of Reality. And Deepak did spend some time contrasting his book to Dawkins'. But Chopra had more to say about Dawkin personally and this seemed pretty emotional, perhaps because the only time that Chopra had met Dawkins previously, was in an interview for Channel 4 in Oxford. He called that engagement an ambush since he did not know beforehand that he would be interviewed by Dawkins for TV. You can see a small snippet of that exchange about Chopra’s ideas on psychic healing, quantum theory and the arrogance of fundamentalist science on YouTube. And, of course, it is not the only time that Chopra’s belief about belief has been held up to critical thinking –see the snippet on belief and insecurity.

One way to make sense of what took place on the “O’Reilly Factor” was payback from Chopra and O’Reilly for being shown up by someone who really understands Science. Here is a bit of the phrases that O’Reilly used to characterize his first interview with Dawkins:

  • Dawkins thinks that we are idiots.

  • There’s more emotion in them (atheists),
  • they get really upset and ticked off and
  • I kicked his butt
Pretty emotion laden phrasing and you can watch Chopra's appearance on The Factor here and decide for yourself on whether reason or emotion was the main player in their discussion.

What I saw is that both O’Reilly and Chopra used some mind numbing ideas to discuss Dawkins. At one point they argued that he was “hypocritical” to insist of using only using “facts and logic.” when really his discussions are emotional. One can go back to the transcript and original video to see how the shoe is really on the other foot here and we are in Big Lie territory.

Later on The Factor show Chopra also played a payback game accusing RD of “camouflaging his bigotry” by parading his scientific credentials to make himself seem credible.

After what seemed to me an emotive payback session it was time for a meeting of the Christian right and what some call "Eastern mystique in credible Western garb." So, as you might imagine loose, emotion-grabbing ideas flowed freeing in the mystical summit of pop-thinkers. They discussed what O’Reilly called a flashpoint tension between believers and non believers. Chopra was more on book topic responding to Bill’s leads stressing how people have to listen to the heart and understand the great prophets. O’Reilly went back to his claim that Judeo-Christian principles were central in founding the United States, and how the Ten Commandments were the basis of the U.S. justice system.

It's certainly a debatable point but my guess is that O'Reilly is not likely to have a on a secular guest to discuss - too emotional a topic for Bill. I'd guess that in the future these 2 guys will stay away from debates with Dawkins and his kind. Rational secularists are just too emotionally committed to facts and critical thinking. This makes them hard to content with and they don't rattle easy unlike .

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